Mr. Lewis’s Strategy

Where’d I get this (probably twenty years ago)?
“I witnessed a unique dramatization of the best service a John Lewis can render one afternoon last summer, when he coached three local saxophonists through a reading of his winsome “Afternoon in Paris” at a free workshop held in Philadelphia’s Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum. “You have to put yourself at the service of the melody,” Lewis kept insisting. “Your solos should expand the melody or contract it.” The young saxophonists initially approached Lewis’s melody as a succession of chord changes. To a man, they were haunted by Coltrane’s vigor but not possessed of his logic. (If Coltrane often sounded like he was clearing long rows of high hurdles, these Philadelphians—like most young Coltrane followers—sounded as though they were running in place.) but after an hour of tussling, they gave in to Lewis, and their solos gradually took on a lovely tone. Afterwards, they seemed visibly surprised that so simple and straightforward an approach to a melody could have put them in touch with such complexities of feeling, and the audience seemed to share their surprise. Only Lewis acted as though he knew it would work out that way all along. If every improviser were a Louis Armstrong or a Sonny Rollins, jazz would have no crying need for a John Lewis. But since few improvisers are blessed with Armstrong’s or Rollins’s intuitive sense of form, mediators like Lewis serve a crucial function.”

Start Here.

If you need a starting point with America’s music, this one is as good as any and better than many: 

It features a veritable pantheon: Vic Dickenson, Danny Barker, Doc Cheatham, Freddie Green, Rex Stewart, Milt Hinton, Roy Eldridge, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Pee Wee Russell, Jimmy Rushing, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Ben Webster… and the oh-so-telegenic Jo Jones.

 Watch it all the way through, in one sitting. Better video copies exist but the music is intact.

This Summer In London

The Games of the XXX* Olympiad will not be in Chicago. They take place beginning Friday, July 27, 2012, and end Sunday, August 12, 2012.

You may not bring any of the following into the events: air horns or vuvuzelas; large hats or Frisbees; nor clothing with political statements, nor flags of countries not participating nor golf umbrellas. Nor may you carry “excessive” amounts of food.

Still up for fun? Wireless access points, such as 3G hubs, are also banned during the Games. Security won’t prevent you from carrying your smart phone to an event, but you won’t be permitted to use it as a connection point for other devices; that means no wireless transmission of images.

Oh, and one more thing: “large” cameras and lenses over 300 mm are not permitted; tripods and monopods are also banned. Enjoy the Games!

*Roman numerals for 30; it’s an all-ages affair.